REEL CANADA Blog : Tags : film festival

REEL CANADA in Montreal

MAMBO ITALIANO at Laurier Macdonald


We had an amazing couple of days in Montreal earlier this month. On Wednesday, April 3rd, we pulled into Laurier Macdonald, an English high school in the Italian neighbourhood of St Leonard, which also happens to be the setting for MAMBO ITALIANO, the coming-out family comedy co-written by Steve Galluccio based on his fantastically successful stage play of the same name. It is always great to watch the kids get excited about seeing streets and landmarks that they actually know turn up on the big screen and this was no exception. Steve himself spoke to the students afterwards and answered some very pointed questions about the autobiographical nature of the story, such as how he dealt with showing the film to his own family. By way of an answer, Steve told the funny and touching story of the film’s opening night, when he realized that he had not actually told his family that he was gay, and that the screening itself would be his own coming out.


MAMBO ITALIANO co-writer Steve Galluccio talks to students at Laurier Macdonald

The afternoon was rounded out with a screening of another Montreal movie, THE TROTSKY, and an appearance by animator Jonathan Ng, who discussed the way movement, drawing and drama intersect for him in his “martial arts/breakup” short, REQUIEM FOR A ROMANCE.


Animator Jonathan Ng

In the evening, REEL CANADA hosted an extraordinary dinner for the Quebec filmmakers that support our program, including a few we were only just meeting for the first time. Our guests included REEL CANADA alumni Kevin (producer of BON COP/BAD COP) and Jacob Tierney (director of THE TROTSKY), Michel Poulette (director of LOUIS 19: LE ROI DESONDES), Don McKellar (director/writer of LAST NIGHT), and Kevin Duhaney, Daniel Keith Morrison and Tristan D Lalla (cast members from the dance film HOW SHE MOVE), as well as new friends to the program, Louise Archambault (one of the directors of THE NATIONAL PARKS PROJECT) Wiebke von Carolsfeld (director of MARION BRIDGE), and Stéphane Lafleur (editor of MONSIEUR LAZHAR). Telefilm’s Sheila de la Varende was on hand to help with hosting duties.


High school students at REEL CANADA's Cineplex Day

The next day was the Big One: 1,300 kids from across the entire Riverside School Board on the south shore of Montreal gathering at the Cineplex Brossard. (The board was so pleased with our event at Centennial Regional HS last year that dynamo board chair Moira Bell insisted that we do something for the entire district.)


This one really tested our team’s organizational muscle as we juggled different school schedules, bus routes and 3,000 pieces of pizza (thanks to PIZZA PIZZA for the generous help!) but somehow we pulled it off without a hitch.


BON COP/BAD COP director Erik Canuel

Érik Canuel, director of BON COP/BAD COP, spoke to two packed theatres, passionately exhorting the students to be aware of the way Canadian movies were part of their identity. This message – as well as his “colourful” language – got a big rise out of both students and teachers.


THE TROTSKY writer/director Jacob Tierney

In other venues, Jacob Tierney talked about his perennially popular THE TROTSKY, hockey historian Jean-Patrice Martel shared a lot of insight into the historical accuracy of THE ROCKET, and the HOW SHE MOVE actors had their audience screaming with excitement.


HOW SHE MOVE actors Daniel Keith Morrison & Kevin Duhaney


Hockey historian Jean-Patrice Martel answering student questions on THE ROCKET 

Thanks to LEARN Quebec for helping to support our Montreal tour, and to the incredible Val McLeod of the Canadian School Boards Association for wrangling every detail into place. We look forward to coming back to Montreal next year.

REEL CANADA's 3rd Annual LINC Event

Reel Canada LINC Vinay Virmani, Veronica Tennant, Michael McGowan

Jack Blum, Vinay Virmani, Veronica Tennant, Joanne Vannicola, Michael McGowan


The spillover from Hurricane Sandy had touched down in Toronto but that did not keep 900 Adult ESL learners from attending our annual event at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on October 29th.


It was an exciting day for REEL CANADA as we screened ONE WEEK, BREAKAWAY and IRON ROAD, followed by Q&A’s with guests from each film. 


For ONE WEEK, REEL CANADA veteran facilitator Marvin Karon led a fantastic discussion with the writer/director of the film Michael McGowan. McGowan has been a major supporter of the REEL CANADA program for several years and has always provided our audiences with thoughtful insight into Canadian filmmaking and his process as a storyteller. Michael discussed the difficulties and joys that come with the territory of shooting a film in the Canadian outdoors in several different locations across the country. The adult ESL crowd was very gracious and happy to have Michael speak with them about his film. We at REEL CANADA are excited for Michael’s latest film STILL, which is set to hit theatres before the year's end.


While one group was discussing life, and the journey to find oneself, another group of ESL learners were discussing hockey and the difficulties of trying to live up to the expectations of the generation before you. The film was BREAKAWAY and the writer/star of the film Vinay Virmani joined a very enthusiastic audience to discuss his heartwarming film. The crowd was eager to hear Vinay’s inspiration for the film. Vinay intimately revealed that he too had experienced a similar kind of pressure to follow in his parents' footsteps but had other life goals and desires he needed to pursue first. Vinay continues to place himself in the ranks as REEL CANADA’s most beloved guests and his gracious and humble ability to engage his audience is a pleasure to watch.


Reel Canada LINC Doug Hum

Fern & Doug Hum


Our biggest crowd of the day was for the epic period piece IRON ROAD. The audience, which included a large contingent of recent arrivals from China, was very interested to discuss the film with local Chinese-Canadian Doug Hum, an expert on the building of the railroad who was able to provide fascinating historical context for the events in the film. The audience also had the pleasure of a double bill as one of the producers of the film, Anne Tait, stopped by to entertain the crowd with stories and anecdotes from working on the film with Chinese born director David Wu.


It was another successful day at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for REEL CANADA and we are anticipating an even bigger event when we return to the Lightbox on November 20th!

A Student's Look Inside A REEL CANADA Event


The Woodlands Secondary School class project on REEL CANADA

By Jimmy Zhou, Grade 9


Reel Canada student class project

REEL CANADA at New Westminster Secondary School



For two days in April, students at New Westminster Secondary School were treated to several inspiring screenings of short films on issues of Aboriginal identity and social justice.


Thanks to the efforts of teacher Lorena Jones, the school library was transformed into a screening venue and attentive crowds of students filed in to enjoy the films.


REEL CANADA’s own Deanne Esdale attended the event and facilitated discussions with two audiences of 100+ students who were attending the social justice-themed screenings. They discussed issues such as the Rwandan genocide after a screening of the short documentary YESTERDAY IN RWANDA, and perspectives on immigration after a screening of the short film TAXI LIBRE.


Even larger crowds turned up to be part of the Aboriginal issues session, and watched THE VISIT, WAPAWEKKA, and the documentary MEMERE METISSE. Seeing unique perspectives on Aboriginal identity told by young filmmakers was refreshing for the students and sparked much great debate. They’d recently watched a hard-hitting doc about residential schools, and were happy to also see some positive stories and expressions of Aboriginal identity in Canada on the big screen.


The event was a real launching pad for discussions and students were energized and enthusiastic to share their comments. We look forward to connecting with the students of New Westminster Secondary School again next year. 

REEL CANADA Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival Ticket Giveaway Contest


Are you interesting in experiencing animated, documentary and fictional short films by up-and-coming talent? Here’s your chance! We have 3 pairs of tickets to the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival (this weekend, June 2 to 3) to give away. To enter, send us your name and email address to: reelcanadahq (at) gmail (dot) com


The Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival is a local film festival that showcases the diverse talent of young and emerging filmmakers while offering an educational forum for participants to strengthen their skills through advice from industry veterans.